Monday, November 15, 2010

Tatting up a storm? Oh, I really, really dislike that phrase. It’s generally said by people with no imagination who simply want to convey their understanding that I’ve been tatting quite a bit. I like watching storms – from inside – but I wouldn’t like to think I’m the cause of all that sound and fury.
But here’s some of what I’ve been doing. I’ve got to prepare this month and next for about five teaching occasions, which means I absolutely have to engage in one of my favorite activities for extended periods of time. Next year, Tatting Times is celebrating its 20th Anniversary, and I want to celebrate by going to as many tatting gatherings as possible!
This is part of a proposal for next spring – the blue at 12 o’clock is a button-based bag; at 3 o’clock is a gingko leaf from my book “Tatting Turns Over a New Leaf.” This past Saturday, the Finger Lakes Tatting Group got together at Graceful Arts (here) and people found at least four ways of tatting this leaf, including the way I wrote it down, which had an error, but works anyway. At the bottom is the whirligig ornament from my “Tatting With Buttons 2.” I forgot how pretty it can be until Hopie showed me last August her versions in the colors of the Southwest. I decided to go for secondary primaries here and a bit of contrast. I think I’ll be making this a few more times for presents this coming season. Lastly, at 9 o’clock is a tatted mitten. I found a new way to tat a foundation chain for Scharf-style leaves. Instead of using paper clips to hold a space, I now tat part of a lock chain, which leaves a small picot in the middle of a chain that may be accessed from both sides.

Read this blog over the years and you may think I’m obsessed with firewood. Certainly, it forms a big part of our lives this part of the year. Carrying in wood, stoking the stove, carrying out ashes, cleaning up around the fireplace – it can all keep you pretty busy. After the big purple machines finished in October, there were about24 small and medium-sized tree trunks piled on the lawn, yesterday my friend’s husband Nate brought his chain saw and buzzed through them. I saw there’s real skill and strategy in cutting up logs. Because most of these are red pine, they’re going to have to season for a very long time before they’re safe to burn. I worked with Nate to pile them up – we think it’s something over a cord of wood, since the logs took up three pallets plus a bit more. It was good exercise – now I’ve just got to figure out how to get pine tar off a good sweater.

So that’s where I’ve been and here’s where I’m going – in addition to more tatting. I was gifted with about 2 pounds of lovely Jacob’s fleece roving by Bill’s daughter Margaret, and I’ve been itching to get my fingers on it. Unfortunately work and other deadlines intervened – and I’ve had to wait a bit. And I’m off to work now, so the wait goes on.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I am not a quilter. I’m a fiberholic, and that’s different. The result of my fiber acquisition/stash-taming efforts – it toggles back and forth between them – is this quilt show, which was a feeble effort to use up fabric stash and impose a little order. The total silliness of this effort was brought home to by the obvious need to buy more fabric in order to use up some stash… so the total amount of fabric left is only slightly depleted. I don’t like sewing, but I seem to be engaged to my sewing machine… if not actually wedded to it for long periods of time.

Last Monday was the day to hang everything on the winery walls. My boss kindly gave me a light day’s work to accomplish this. Bill came and helped, mostly standing on the ground saying helpful things like “higher on the left. No, HIGHER!” while I teetered on a ladder, reaching for areas I really should have gotten down and moved the ladder to first. Fortunately, it was all quickly hung, without disaster. Eighteen pieces.

The opening was officially on Thursday. I did a bunch of cooking, went to work, came home, changed clothes, came back and paced nervously. I think this opening set a record for being among the smallest. But I sold three pieces, including the two big ones on the back wall. Those are the ones on the top photo. One other quilt has now left – I didn’t get a chance to photograph it, but it will be given to a new mother to welcome her new baby. I’ve got a new quilt to put up in its place, one that didn’t make it into the show.

Moving the season right along, I’ve done little to tame the mess in the studio. This is why. I signed up, kinda last minute, to vend at a crafts fair tomorrow that’s supposed to be the largest one in the region. Went into gear knitting mittens with this great local wool – rather, the sheep whose wool this is graze about a mile uphill from my house. Here are mittens in progress – they take a lot of finishing before they become double-thick reversible mitts. There’s a lot of stages in knitting these mittens, including knitting, sewing, fulling, shaping, putting one mitten inside the other….

And voila! Here are 11 finished sets, atop one corner of a newly re-covered couch. For those who know me, this fabric was carefully chosen to match the coloration of our invisible cat. In case of an unexpected instance of extroversion, she can sit here and remain more or less invisible. Not with the mittens, though. They’re leaving town.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Last year, I challenged Tatting Times readers to see how many shuttles they could empty (by tatting the small ends. Of course, I was, as usual, trying to pack too many things into too short a time to take the dare myself, though several people discovered several hundred shuttles occupied with forgotten bits of thread. Knowing I, too, had to do something about this situation, in the August Tatting Times, I offered this small and easy pattern - which quickly went viral! I almost think we need a support group of people working on it. Yes, it does leave you with a lot of ends – but sewing them in truly doesn’t take long, and it’s a wonderful take-along meditative experience. Here’s how far I’ve gotten. Pam Freck made hers a bit more organized – she groups her flowers into sevens and tats a border of solid-colored flowers around each group.
Here’s the pattern – the center ring is R: 5-5-5-5-5-5 (five picots, plus the start and end of the ring; then CH around: 6-6+ (six times). You need a little more than a meter of thread per flower. You can keep going forever… Or stop whenever you’ve reached something of a recognizable shape.
When the big purple tractor was finished clearing scrub and trees, this lovely maple was revealed in its fall splendor… it was almost worth all the trouble and expense of having the junk hauled away to see this beauty!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It’s impossible to pick up and summarize everything that’s happened since I last blogged. Life moved on, of course. These socks (right) got finished – so did a few others. Other projects got started and finished.
These socks, (above, really blurry, but really, they are socks) for instance, were dyed in the same dye-lot as sock yarn I special-dyed for my friend Phyllis. I dyed mine using sport-weight sock yarn, which struck me as a great idea. A lot of Seneca Santa hat and mitten sets, for which I made a lot of hats (I think I’ve done more than 50 this year) and also a batch of mittens. More will happen later this year. I made this bag (below)
for an exchange and got even more into the idea of combining tatting and crazy quilting, something I later taught at the International Old Lacer’s gathering in Portland, Oregon this past summer. I did a batch of traveling, all of it fun. One of the nicest results of a trip – one to the Palmetto Tatters Guild conference in late August, was that Sue Hanson came to visit for a week. Unfortunately, it was a really busy week in September, including the work season in full bloom, a primary election and Rosh Hashonah, but we did manage to have a get together with a larger group of tatters. It was our third informal tatting gathering this year and a whole lot of fun. Here are Sue Hanson (on the left) and Sherry Townsend, in front of one of our smaller flower gardens, wearing each others’ hats. I tried Sue's hat on too, and liked it so much, I decided to keep it - at least, in my photo! Also a lot of people, not seen, sitting on the porch egging them on and applauding. Also not imaged at this moment is the tremendous job Sue did of organizing my studio. She claimed it was fun for her, and it was amazing, I learned a lot. I've still got a distance to go... when things calm down a bit around here. Which is not yet. Just to make life more interesting, we’ve been having a lot of work done around the house and the shop – a lot of trees cut and brush removed from the edge of the woods so we could get more sunshine and more lawn to mow (which always sounds like fun in the fall when lawn-mowing season is over) and as I write on Sunday morning, a drainage ditch is being cut to one side of the shop entry, to pull water away from the foundation of the house on that side. The person who's doing it is absolutely wonderful - smart and logical, and I expect it will make a great difference. And, in the “What was I thinking?” department, a few years ago I signed up to do a solo quilt show - so when my nose hasn’t been to the grindstone, it’s been pressed up against the sewing machine. I’m stopping now to work on finishing yet another quilt… more later!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I’m ready for the big blizzard allegedly coming our way tonight. We’ve got plenty of food, wood in the house and… umm… How did I suddenly find myself knitting seven sweaters simultaneously? We could blame this on one of the sweet ladies of the spinning group who suggested a knit-along on the topic of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s baby surprise jacket. So I began one out of handspun, another out of some yarn in the shop, thinking it might go to a friend, and on second thought, not knowing the size of the friend’s baby, decided to begin a third one with some very neat green yarn from my stash, with the second one staying in the shop as an example of what may be done with that yarn Here’s the pink sweater I began at least a year ago, with some shop yarn I wanted to show off, because I thought it would make a neat sweater, and the sweater I started for another baby (who has probably by now long outgrown said sweater) and the one I’ve begun for myself using last fall’s indigo dyed handspun, spun with intentional irregularities. Oh no – there’s another that got put aside so long I forgot to count it! There’s two pairs of socks in progress too (can’t find one of them, so could we call that inactive?) And two scarves I’ve been knitting as shop examples. Oh, and also a pair of cashmere/wool mittens-in progress, around somewhere. And the plan of using up some of my extra stash as Seneca Santa hats – I found inexpensive magic gloves yesterday and got 10 pairs for this project. I thought I’d try making one hat a day for a while. It’s embarrassing, it’s crazy, it’s much too much – it’s winter.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Here’s Kyle and Shannon on their wedding day, after opening their quilt. Outside it was snowy – in fact, snow had stopped several expected guests from attending. We made it to the wedding only in our 4WD truck – everything in the truck-bad wrapped in layers of plastic. It took an extra hour to drive there, though the roads were clear and we made it home in better time.
As weddings go, this one was high on my list of the ones I’ve most enjoyed. The young couple was joyful, as were all the spectators, all of us happy to see them together; the reception was elegant and homey – it was the sort of beautiful event that happily becomes a lovely memory to remember ever after with a smile.

Today I drove off in yet another snow squall to collect two more afghans for the homelessness marathon. (It starts February 23, 7 pm eastern time on many public radio stations across the county and in Canada; then continues through the night until 9 am the following morning.) The two I got aren’t pictured, but they’re gorgeous bright colors; these were mostly made from squares kind people sent. In all, 11 people will be warmer this winter.
Last of my errands today was a trip to the post office where I collected this mysterious package. One foot was coyly peeking out from the wrapping. It took quite a while to unpack…

Many minutes later, I was one layer down.

Then a lot of cleaning, oiling, tinkering. This was a rash e-Bay purchase; Nagy wheels are highly-thought-of and it was calling me. It was built in 1971, and the wood is beautifully finished. But it’s missing a few pieces, like the footman, replaced with a broken and splintery piece of wood; the peg for the orifice hook (and the orifice hook itself); and the crankshaft was bent. It’s been partly straightened now, but the wheel still has a wobble. It needs more love and attention than I’ve got time or skill to give it today; it also has this strange, large cup-hook screwed into the front. I think that might be to weight it down so it wobbles less? Still, it’s a nice, lightweight wheel, pretty for the living room and useful – or might be eventually.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Photo-gallery time – for a sampling of some of the things I’ve been working on and occasionally talking about. I took a quick inventory of works-in-progress today and it was staggering. For everything I finish, there are five more projects in various stages of not-quite-done.
But spinning is like a poem, you sit down at the wheel and when you get up, something is generally accomplished. These are some of the handspun yarns posted on my etsy site (see previous entry). Can you tell I love color?
Last September, at the Palmetto Tatting Gathering, Georgia Seitz distributed crazy quilt squares, already sewn, ready for tatting ornamentation. I took two, began one immediately and lost track of the second. Time to find them both and finish them, I thought – which I’ve now done as part of my unrelenting (and probably fruitless) quest for better order. Now they’re done and mailed off to Georgia. Hand-sewing is something I have to push myself to do, and I'm always surprised to re-discover how much I actually enjoy it. Maybe if I weren't a tatter I'd be more of an embroiderer? I mostly used pieces from my endless stash of fragments and motifs, only tatted one piece particularly for this purpose. Can you tell which one?
I’ve hesitated about putting this quilt up because it’s one intended for Bill’s grandson Kyle, getting married this weekend. Then I’ve reasoned the happy couple are probably too busy at the moment (they’re both chefs) to be concerned about checking my blog… as if they ever do? So here’s a peek. What you’re seeing in the photo is the sunshine-and-shadow center of the quilt, the orange/cream/green pansy sashing/inner border, and a glimpse of the back (navy blue cotton) and the yellow border. It’s a double size quilt; I machine quilted it, then hand-finished the border. Started it Christmas day, finished a few weeks ago…

Saturday, February 6, 2010

One more finished, three more still in progress. Time is ticking away and – is it ADHD or simply a fiber-related personality disorder? – there are other things I want to be working on and can convince myself are in fact, equally pressing.

Exhibit A, for why I love hand-spinning. People I know have recently adopted a baby from Ethiopia; I haven’t met this child yet so I don’t know her size. Something stretchy was in order, also something wooly because we’ve still got a bit of winter. And I also wanted it to be soft, which can be somewhat controlled with the spinning. Originally thought all white, or at least that natural, creamy off-white; then as I was spinning, I began pulling out other colors until I had a whole batch of interesting things to work with. Knitted the little socks, adding eyelets for ribbons to keep them on as booties; then began the hat. Uh-oh – ran out of yarn. Solution – go to the wheel and spin more. Works every time.
Last week I opened an etsy shop - I registered three years ago and didn’t do anything until now. So far, only handspun there, hand-dyed threads and sock yarns coming soon. What I’ve got up so far is at

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Had to fit this in before January was absolutely, completely over. It’s been a busy month with a lot of article-writing, a whole lot of tatting, a bunch of spinning, and a fair amount of afghan construction.
Here’s at least one early sign of spring – some tatted peeps – these are in the February Tatting Times, which has already gone out to the first batch of subscribers. The blue one was the basic one; on the green one I added more of a tail – and the variegated one, which is actually quacking, definitely did not work in variegateds – it’s included as a sort of cautionary example.
The first batch of homelessness afghans already went to Detroit; I’m hoping to get more finished within the next week. It’s one of those every-evening-sit-down-and-work –away-at-it endeavors – a lot of crocheting and sewing with only small incremental changes for weeks at a time.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Eleven days into the project and I’ve got one afghan finished (folded, it’s the one underneath) and another begun (that’s the one with yellow, on top). It’s something to do while listening to books on tape in the evening; I seem to be able to advance it about six inches per evening. After I finish the yellow one, it will be time to put the pieces together for the ones made of rectangles. That takes a while too… It’s nice warm work for a cool evening BUT – I’d rather be tatting.